Responsible Firm Behaviour in Political Markets: Judging the Ethicality of Corporate Political Activity in Weak Institutional Environments

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Abstract

While support for corporate political activity (CPA) is well echoed in the literature, little has been done to empirically examine its ethicality. Moreover, existing ethical CPA frameworks assume normative and rational leanings that are insufficient to provide a comprehensive account of CPA ethicality. Utilizing the Ghanaian context, adopting a multiple case study design involving 28 Directors from 22 firms, and employing a grounded theory approach, I explore how the ethicality of CPA is determined in weak institutional environments. The findings reveal that business executives evaluate ethics at three levels (i.e. context, organizational and strategy) using three principles (i.e. utilitarianism, justice and institutions). Leveraging this knowledge, I present an eclectic framework that bridges the long-standing gap between normative ethical prescriptions and lived ethical realities. In doing so, I move away from abstraction to give “voice” to the actors involved in CPA. I also present a model that shows how the ethical judgement process is influenced by managerial intuition and interactive personal and organizational experiences. This article has important theoretical and practical implications for ethical business-government relations in developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325–345
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume172
Early online date21 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Sustainability

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